I should admit my displeasure with President Peter Mutharika’s showing on that Hardtalk interview with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) anchor Zeinab Badawi.
You see, the interview was a grand opportunity for my President, currently on a begging spree, to argue his case to the global community for a Malawi he envisions.
That opportunity, I am sorry to say, was lost. What my President achieved was to advertise to the world that he is completely ignorant of the key issues that have trapped Malawi in the doldrums of poverty.
In diagnosing Malawi’s development challenges, my President insisted on three issues: floods, Cashgate and donor withdrawal.
To somebody watching the interview in Mexico or Philippines, you would not blame him or her for concluding that Malawi is still poor, today, because of such three issues.
But is that an honest diagnosis? Hell, no!
Studies have not been shy on the question of Malawi’s continued underdevelopment. They have shown us that they key issue that has trapped the country in dungeons of poverty is, mostly, the nature of its State.
You see, for a country like Malawi where the State is rich and powerful while the private sector is weak and wholly dependent on the State to survive effectively, the character of the State is immensely key in championing development.
In other words, it is the quality of the State that is key in Malawi’s development.
Unfortunately, since independence, the character of our State has notoriously been defined by predatorial tendencies.
What we have noted, in the past 51 years, is a State governed by a group of politicians whose key goal is primitive accumulation.
These are politicians who pursue short development plans at the expense of long terms development ones.
We all know, from those that developed, that no country in the world ever developed with short terms development plans.
But in Malawi, every leader comes with his or her own short development projects with a goal of wanting to be seen as doing something different. This has subjected Malawi to a nation that is always beginning.
To me, if Malawi dreams to develop, the first critical thing is to reform the nature of its State. Reforming our State, I always argue, need to begin with the mind of the President.
You see, we have a presidential democracy where the President is immensely powerful and, practically speaking, dictates how the nation should proceed. To me, the mind and character of a President is key here.
This is where I have issues with the Mutharika’s showing during that BBC interview on Monday last week.
In the first place, my President failed to diagnose that the nature of our State he is head of is the first culprit in keeping Malawi poor. Two, the three issues he mentioned-floods, Cashgate and donors-are only effects, not a cause of Malawi’s continued retrogress.
Unlike floods which are disasters, donor withdrawal and Cashgate, which is simply large scale corruption, have always been with us. They are nothing new and Mutharika was only fooling himself by thinking that he is the first leader in Malawi to have experienced such things.
What Mutharika failed to articulate is the reason we always, as a country, steal billions from the Treasury and, again, we keep losing donors.
I have an answer for my President: It is the nature of the State he is its head. If you think corruption is only Cashgate during Joyce Banda and remain silent on the K61 billion your brother accumulated, the K577 billion that can’t be explained, the K1.7 billion Bakili Muluzi case, and then we know we have a problem. And indeed we are assured of wrong prescriptions like crying out for a luxurious jet amidst economic woes. n